Collaborative maintenance projects create aggregate datasets from the combined contributions of their users. But the value in that dataset may not always directly benefit individual contributors. For example, they may only benefit from the new products and services that are enabled by the dataset, or they may only benefit once the project is nearly complete, or has reached a certain size or level of usage.
This asymmetry can make it difficult for contributors to see the value in contributing, particularly at the beginning of a project.
Providing ways to deliver value to individual contributors may help to increase participation and sustain engagement over time.
The best way to achieve this is to develop features or tools that benefit contributors.
For example, a project to build an open catalogue of music, literature, photographs or animal sightings could provide contributors with the ability to organise and manage a personal collection, or ways to explore or view the data they have contributed in new ways, for example as a timeline or on a map.
Projects that involve contributors from organisations could provide tools and APIs that provide some value for that organisation. For example, a project that is cataloguing store locations could provide organisations with a map of their individual stores that can be embedded on their website.
If you Know Your Community it will be easier to understand their needs, goals and interests, which will help you to create these features or tools. An Evolving Schema could help you to collect additional data that will provide value to individual contributors and not just the project as a whole.
Another way to provide value to individual contributors is to Gamify Contributions.